GlaxoSmithKline Withdraws Patent Applications for Antiretrovirals Abacavir, Trizivir in IndiaGlaxoSmithKline recently withdrew the patent applications for its antiretroviral drugs Abacavir and Trizivir in India, the Economic Times reports. According to the Times, GSK formally withdrew its application for Abacavir, and its application for Trizivir was deemed withdrawn after the company requested that India's Patent Office not examine the case.
Abacavir is a second-line antiretroviral used to treat people living with HIV/AIDS who have developed resistance to first-line drugs. Trizivir is a triple-combination antiretroviral used for first- and second-line treatments, the Times reports. Both antiretrovirals are on the World Health Organization's recommended list of drugs for HIV treatments, the Times reports. Some Indian generic drug companies -- including Cipla, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Hetero Drugs -- already market one or both drugs in the country. GSK declined to comment on the status of the applications. A GSK spokesperson said the company does "not comment on specific patent applications. However, as part of our policy, routine reviews of our patent applications are undertaken on a regular basis."
An unnamed source said GSK's move is the result of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis's failed challenge to a section of the country's Patents Act that aims to restrict certain kinds of patents (Singh, Economic Times, 12/7).
India's patent law, which went into effect in January 2005, allows patents for products that are new inventions developed after 1995, when India joined the World Trade Organization, or for an updated drug that exhibits improved efficacy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6). According to the Times, the company thought it necessary to withdraw the applications rather than be rejected because a rejection could weaken the company's chances of securing patents in other developing countries. Medecins Sans Frontieres and I-MAK had challenged the patent applications on behalf of the Indian Network of Positive People (Economic Times, 12/7). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.